"The Gift of Remembering"
All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that there were strangers and foreigners on the earth.
Today is July 13, one day before the day that changed my life forever. On July 14, fourteen years ago, my daughter, Whitney, was killed at the hands of her brother. Many of you know this about me. This was, without a doubt, the hardest event I have ever lived through in my life.
I mention this today, because I want to share with you the ways in which God has touched me and helped bring healing to me since that tragedy struck. It is my hope that for all who have experienced significant loss, that you, too, can face it in a way that allows God to touch you and bring healing to you.
Right after Whitney’s death, I was angry. I was so very sad. I couldn’t even put into words the depth of the pain that I felt. Everywhere I went I wanted to just blurt out to people, “Let me tell you about the tragedy that has struck my life.” I am grateful for those who patiently listened to me when I did.
I am thankful for a church, for friends and family, who prayed for me and listened to me. I turned to God and offered the depth of my pain and anger, asking God to work in me and bring me to the place God needed me to be emotionally and spiritually.
I am grateful for good counselors who walked with me through the pain, the numbness and helped me learn to befriend the grief over the death of my daughter. I began to recognize the ways in which my body and soul would grieve. I stopped fighting against that grief and acknowledged it and accepted it.
In time, I learned how important it is to remember my daughter, Whitney. I started becoming intentional about the ways I remember Whitney. I have a candle in my work space that I regularly light, filled with oil that is her favorite color (purple). On the 14th of every month, I write a letter to my daughter. On the day of her death and on other special occasions (like her birthday), you will often find me at Culver’s eating a meal and remembering the beautiful life my daughter lived and the witness that she offered to this world.
Throughout the years since Whitney’s death, my love for her has grown. When she appears in my dreams, I feel like I have been able to spend extra time with her. Today, I see July 14th as the day in which my daughter, was born into heaven. And yes, I look forward to the day when I am born into heaven, for I know that she will be one of the first to greet me and welcome me.
Today, I remember Whitney (and many others) as a saint in my life, who helps me come to know God and God’s love for me. Who are the saints in your life that you remember? Who are those who help you understand more about God and God’s love? What can you do to remember them?
In this journey of life, may we cherish the moments we get with those we love. In our remembering, may they live on in us and in this world.
Loving God, thank you for the gift of relationship. Thank you for the memories we make with those near to us. When a life of one we love ends, before we are ready. Teach us how to grieve well. Teach us to lean on you and on community, so you can take our pain and transform it and bring us to a new place of healing and wholeness. In the hope Jesus offers us, Amen